The Calder/Miró exhibition at Galería Mayoral takes the viewer on an uplifting walk through the work of the two artists, highlighting the remarkable similarities in their creative sensibility. Alexander Calder and Joan Miró first met in 1928 when the American artist visited Miró’s studio in Paris. Since then they maintained a deep and mutually inspiring friendship lasting almost 50 years during which they exchanged ideas, letters, paintings and gifts and collaborated on numerous exhibitions. They were both heavily influenced by the surrealist movement, taking their inspirationfrom the unconscious, and applied heavy symbolism in their abstractions, as well as sharing a thematic interest in the circus and astrology.
The exhibition at Galería Mayoral displays a selection of paintings, sculptures and drawings which demonstrate the close synergy between the two artists and confirm the description of Calder’s mobiles as “living Miró abstractions” (Genauer, Emily, New York World-Telegram, 15 February 1936). The luminous gallery space is invaded by bold shapes, hypnotising movement and bright colours: blues, reds, yellows and greens dominate.
Apart from Calder’s beautifully bold paintings, which were a pleasant surprise for me, the main highlight was Elephant (1970), an exquisite moving sculpture made with wires and sheets of metal which sums up Calder’s flair for kinetic sculpture, using minimal materials to create a real impression of an elephant. It was nice also to see some works linked to both artists, a painting by Calder dedicated to Miró and his wife Pilar, and a set of jewellery which Calder made for Miró’s wife and daughter. The exhibition focused largely on Calder and I would have liked to see more works by Miró, though there were some beautiful pieces such as the oil painting Femme oiseau dans la Nuit (1945).
Considering the selection of works and the fascinating relationship between Calder and Miró, there was great potential for a fantastic exhibition, but it failed to meet my expectations. Enjoyable as it was to walk amongst the wonderful display of paintings, sculptures and drawings, I was left dissatisfied and with many questions. What the exhibition lacked was a curator to create a dialogue between the works and a logical sequence, but more importantly, to give some background information and anecdotes about their relationship and how they came to influence each other. An introductory text or informative pamphlet for example, would have given the works some context and made it hugely more interesting. On top of that, many pieces were completely unlabeled, with no indication of the artist, year, or materials.
Despite its shortcomings I am pleased to have attended the exhibition, though it certainly missed an opportunity to be an informative and stimulating experience and I was unimpressed with the organisation of the gallery. However, Calder’s elephant alone is enough to make it worth a quick visit, just be prepared to do your own background research.
Calder/Miró can be seen at the Galería Mayoral until the end of March.